The FCC is looking to settle a recent investigation into radio payola by forcing station programmers to stock their shelves with indie music:
While details of the Enforcement Bureau’s proposal were sketchy, sources said that radio station groups would be required to set aside a certain amount of airtime for music produced independently. The radio groups also would agree to a code of conduct and an education program, the sources said. As part of the deal, the radio broadcasters would not admit to any wrongdoing.
“There are two components,” one source said. “There’s an education component for people in the industry, where it is spelled out that you can do this and not do that, and there is a code of conduct. Then there is the airtime component.”
It was unclear how the airtime deal would work and what would qualify as “independently produced” music, but the sources said that some of the commissioners are concerned about the major labels’ ability to dominate the airwaves.
Of course, this idea raises a lot of questions–what music counts as “independently produced,” whether this blustering is just a way for the FCC commissioners to get an advance of the new Shins record. We suspect that any mandated indie music will be relegated to the low-reach, early-Sunday-morning slots that are normally reserved for religious shows and sops to the “public affairs” crowd, and asking your local radio station to spin an Arcade Fire song during its all-request lunch hour will be met with just as much stunned silence as it is now.